Special events considered at Cleveland Regional Jetport

Special events considered at Cleveland Regional Jetport

January 25th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

A number of propeller-driven aircraft are securely tied down at the Cleveland Regional Jetport.

Photo by Paul Leach/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Exotic luxury cars, military helicopter shows and rides may be coming to the Cleveland Regional Jetport.

On Friday, the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority discussed proposals by Gotham Dream Cars and the Army Aviation History Foundation for providing special events at the jetport later this year.

"This is a great idea, and I think it would do well here," Lynn DeVault, secretary-treasurer of the airport authority board, said of weekend events during which people could drive on a specially designed autocross course in a Lamborghini, Ferrari or other high-end automobile.

Typical autocross course events can handle between 100 and 125 riding customers a day, said Eric Nelson, general manager of Gotham Dream Cars' Southeast operations.

Facility fees range from $2,500 to $3,500 for hosting such an event, and customers typically pay a little over $100 per ride on average, Nelson said.

The events would be held on the jetport runway surface with safety and operational needs in mind, he said.

"There would only be one vehicle on the surface at a time," said Mark Fidler, director of the Cleveland Regional Jetport. "It's very manageable."

Nelson said the special autocross courses can be tailored to fit the jetport surface spaces and quickly dismantled to accommodate aircraft operations.

In addition to special events, Gotham Dream Cars can provide exotic cars for rentals, he said.

For jetport visitors interested in taking to the sky, the nonprofit history foundation can bring restored Vietnam War-era Huey and Cobra helicopters to the airfield, said Jody Fann, a crew member of the organization.

He said the cost for the rides ranges between $50 and $60 per person.

The foundation also offers the "Sky Soldiers" program, which provides demonstrations of helicopter combat assault and rescue operations, Fann said.

In other business, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland presented the airport board with a framed collection of photographs, hand-stamped letters and memorabilia associated with Cleveland's only known day of direct air service, which occurred in 1938.

On that day, airmail service pilot Martin Little carried a gun to protect his cargo and landed in a grass field where Durkee Road is now, Rowland said. About 2,000 people showed up for the event, he said.

"Very few cities in the nation had aerial service [at the time], especially with a destination like Cleveland and Chattanooga," Rowland said. "I thought that was an unusual event and not many cities can claim that."

The gift, he said, was in recognition of the Cleveland Regional Jetport's first birthday, which is today.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.